Minnesota Twins right-hander Joe Ryan will look for his fourth consecutive win over the Tigers this season when the teams begin a three-game series in Detroit on Friday night.
In three starts vs. Detroit this year, the rookie is 3-0 with a 1.02 ERA. Ryan has given up just two runs and eight hits over 17 2/3 innings in those outings, with two walks and 25 strikeouts.
Ryan (12-8, 3.70 ERA) pitched only four innings in his latest start, giving up three runs on four hits and three walks during a no-decision against the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.
He needs just two strikeouts on Friday to set the club’s rookie record, but he said the mark isn’t that big of a deal for him.
Francisco Liriano holds the record, with 144 strikeouts in 2006.
“I’d rather throw as many innings as I can — with zeros,” Ryan said.
He threw a total of 14 2/3 scoreless innings in starts against the Cleveland Guardians and Kansas City Royals before the rough outing against the Angels. Ryan notched 14 strikeouts while yielding just three hits and four walks in those two games.
He wasn’t as sharp vs. Los Angeles.
“He had to kind of work his way and kind of fight through some things out there,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s coming off two phenomenal starts, where his stuff was way up, and he held it the entire game.
“The command of all his pitches was there. I think (Saturday), I don’t know if it was weather, I don’t know if it was just a little bit of a different feel for him out on the mound, but he didn’t quite look the same as he did the last two starts.”
Ryan will be opposed on Friday by Tigers left-hander Tyler Alexander (4-10, 4.68 ERA), who has been on point in his past two starts. He held the Baltimore Orioles scoreless in seven innings of two-hit ball on Sept. 19, then followed that by limiting the Chicago White Sox to one run and four hits in six innings on Sunday.
He got a major assist in the latter game from center fielder Riley Greene, who robbed Andrew Vaughn of a two-run homer.
“I thought I was commanding the ball well,” Alexander said. “I was throwing some good four-seamers up and in. Things got a little wonky in the fourth when I didn’t command the ball up and in and I got great defense.”
The Tigers (63-92) have won six straight to at least temporarily climb out of last place in the American League Central. Manager A.J. Hinch insists the wins are meaningful, even though the season will end on Wednesday.
“Don’t take this for granted,” Hinch said. “These guys that are playing at this level can’t take it for granted. I would caution anybody that plays for a living to not get too comfortable, just because the standings tell you that they’re not going to factor in. Everything matters.”
Detroit completed a three-game sweep of Kansas City with a 10-3 win on Thursday, while Minnesota (76-80) lost 4-3 to the White Sox in its home finale.
The Twins already have clinched the season series against Detroit, leading 10-6 entering the weekend.
–Field Level Media